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TMD: Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Physical Therapy Treatment.

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a common condition that limits the natural function of the jaw, such as opening the mouth and chewing, and can cause pain. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge joint that connects your jaw to your skull in front of your ear. The pain it causes can range from slight to severe and can diminish one’s quality of life as it limits the natural functions of the jaw, such as chewing and yawning.


Causes of TMJ Disorder:

In many cases, it’s not known what causes a TMJ disorder. Trauma to the jaw or joint may play a role. There are also other health conditions that may contribute to the development of TMJ disorder.

 These include:

  • Arthritis
  • Erosion of the joint
  • Habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth
  • Structural jaw problems present at birth

There are some other factors that are often associated with the development of TMJ disorder but they haven’t been proven to cause TMJ disorder. These include:

  • The use of orthodontic braces
  • Poor posture that strains the muscles of the neck and face.
  • Prolonged stress
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of sleep


Symptoms of TMJ Disorder:

The symptoms of TMJ disorders depend on the severity and cause of your condition. The most common symptom of TMJ disorder is pain in the jaw and surrounding muscles. Other symptoms typically associated with these disorders include:

  • Pain that can be felt in the face or neck
  • Stiffness in the muscles of the jaw
  • Limited movement of the jaw
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Clicking or popping sound from the TMJ site
  • Shift in the jaw, changing the way that the upper and lower teeth align (called malocclusion)

Effective Physical Therapy Treatment For TMJ Disorder:

Physiotherapy is an effective, drug-free treatment for the temporomandibular joint disorder.

Your physical therapist can help you restore the natural movement of your jaw and decrease your pain. Based on your condition, your therapist will select treatments that will work best for you. Your treatments may include:


1- Special Pain Treatments:

 Severe pain may call for treatments that include ultrasound and electrical stimulation. A physiotherapist can administer these pain treatments.


2- Posture Education:

If you sit with your head in an increased forward position, you are placing a greater strain on the muscles beneath your chin, causing the lower jaw to pull back and the mouth to be in an open position even when resting, increasing stress on the TMJ. You also might be overworking the jaw muscles to force the jaw closed so your mouth isn’t open all the time. Your physical therapist will teach you to be aware of your posture so that you can improve the resting position of your jaw, head, neck, breastbone, and shoulder blades when you’re sitting and walking.


3-  Referral to A Dentist:

If your TMJ is caused by teeth alignment problems, your physical therapist can refer you to a dentist who specializes in TMD, who can correct the alignment with special appliances, such as “bite guards” that create a natural resting position to relax the TMJ, relieve pain, and improve jaw function.


4- Improving Jaw Movement:

Physical therapists use skilled hands-on techniques (manual therapy) to gently increase movement and relieve pain in tissues and joints.  They may use manual therapy to stretch the jaw in order to restore normal joint and muscle flexibility or break up scar tissues (“adhesions”) that sometimes develop when there is constant injury.

Your physical therapist will teach you special “low-load” exercises that don’t exert a lot of pressure on your TMJ but can strengthen the muscles of the jaw and restore a more natural, pain-free motion.

Maintaining a good sitting posture is essential in preventing TMJ problems. Physiotherapists will show you how to maintain a better posture to prevent future episodes of TMD.

Do you think you may have TMD? If so, kindly visit our website  to find out more about how our professional physiotherapist can help you!

Call us now on +971 4 348 8262